What's happening in the blueberry FoodTech World

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Food Taipei - Day Four

Day 4!  Get me out of here!!!  Most exhibitions abroad run for three days maximum.   Some of the large ones like ANUGA, SIAL and Gulfood run 5 days!   Food Taipei was four.  The final day gave me an opportunity to visit the Taiwan Pavilion.  Total Chaos and incredibly loud.  Took a short video above which shows some of the action and noise!

Taiwan is a nation of several large food companies and thousands of small.   Note the sophistication of the booths, the bright packaging and focus on natural ingredients.

Last year, I made the rounds and just a few blueberry containing products here and there  Now some really great developments.

>Blueberry juices not from concentrate (NFC)
>Snack foods with dried blueberries
>Drinking vinegars and honey with blueberry
>Moon cakes with blueberry fillings

June 2018 - New Blueberry Product of the Month

This package is new and it says "blueberries.   Check out the label -- blueberries are the #1 ingredient!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Food Taipei- Day Three

Here is a look at the International Pavilion of Food Taipei held in Taipei, June 27-30

The show is located at the Nanagang Exposition Center and is on two floors.  Today's video covers the top floor for international companies.  USA was in a great location and USHBC holds a prime location.

Take Aways:

>Interest in frozen and dried blueberries for food processing is strong.  Companies are in need of product that can met the strict Taiwan MRLs.

>Taiwan is a long-time loyal market for USA blueberries.   Again and again companies who we have known for decades stopped in to visit.  They are proud to be on the USA blueberry team and this year we rolled out the Real Seal and had some strong interest and commitments.

>We have gone from fresh, to frozen and now to ingredient solutions!   Manufacturers are fascinated with the wide variety of ingredient solutions that are available.  

>In meeting with Taiwan companies, it is impressive to see how many are now advanced into Mainland China with successful nationwide business operations.

>Taiwan is the "home base" for "Overseas Chinese" who operate businesses in Southeast Asia including the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia.  Some of the leading companies in the region come to the Food Taipei to visit suppliers and equipment manufacturers.

Taiwan does matter!

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Food Taipei - Day Two

Welcome to the USA Pavilion near the main entrance of the Food Taipei,  Note the excellent booth location that you can see all the way from the entry!

Lots of action!  The USDA staff told us they received positive feedback from those who visited our booth.  They met knowledgeable and helpful blueberry people.  So happy to hear that!

Mascot Overview
Best of class!  

One of strangest mascots at show.

USDA Banquet and Product Showcase.

Yummy blueberry products

Desserts made with fresh blueberries

Back to basic muffins!

A long day, a good day!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Food Taipei - Day One

Welcome to Food Taipei.  This is the USA Pavilion.  USHBC picked a great location near the ATO office and facing a heavy traffic aisle.  You can see the both from afar!

Mandy holds a meeting with a food distributor at our booth.  

Here are my long time friends from O'Natural.  (Super Elephant) We helped them into the blueberry business two decades ago, and they are still innovating!  

Booth is looking good!

Bakery friends from the Philippines!  They say Mabuhay to blueberries!

Friendly Japanese jam manufacturer

Always some crazy stuff in Taiwan, and Food Taipei is no exception.  Here is the Grand Opening Ceremony

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Saigon Mission Accomplished!

Welcome to HCM City.  20 hrs, but worth it!  The Cathedral in the photo is a remnant along with Opera House and Main Post office from the French Colonial era.  
Some of you who think I am on the way to Food Taipei will be surprised to see the Welcome sign at the Vietnam Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Duty calls, and we needed to get 30 kg of generic frozen blueberries to Vietnam for testing and product development and pronto.   And, we got it done this weekend. 

Despite great demand, there are no non-stop air flights from the USA to Vietnam -- yet.  Must fly through Tokyo on the way.

It's all about sampling.  Ask anyone in the frozen business -- what is the toughest thing about new markets.  All will reply -- sampling.  Quite simply, the easy task back home is mission impossible.  It is extremely costly to ship small frozen samples overseas.  Especially to a steamy place like Vietnam.  90 degrees and 90 percent humidity.  A lot like New Orelans in the summer.  Product must be shipped wit dry ice, and since 9-11, the rules are very, very strict on the amount that can be used in airline baggage or carry in.  

Oh yes, just send by Fedex,  DHL and others is not a great option.  Packers can all tell horror stories of goods carefully packed, and paid and shipped which are delayed in customs.  Inspectors can ask for all sorts of needless documents while the goods thaw.  

We buzzed right over to a cold storage at 10:00 pm to deliver the goods.   Note the steamed glasses on the right!  This is the best gig in town!  Everyone, especially Hana on the right are extremely happy and now tomorrow morning we will start visiting companies!
Back to my triumphant arrival to SGN!  The goods made it, walked through customs and was met by our Hana and her crew in Vietnam who have been nervously awaiting frozen samples.    We got it through, and I got a great Vietnamese sandwich and a bag of mangos as sign of appreciation!

Off to a cold storage nearby.   The goods are now being used to gain the proper permits for USHBC to bring in a larger sample shipment that will be used for market development work and expositions in the region.   We are working with the leading dairy and food processing companies and all are anxious to give product a try.

Critical link in the process:  As I have been preaching for decades, food industry market development is a process.  Below is the chart of the process we have been preaching for decades.

>First Build Awareness (This is where we are in most developing markets)
>This leads to Interest by some who see some benefit from our product.  In Vietnam, thanks to the work of Hana, there is a growing interest!  
>Trial and Evaluation.  Before business, companies want to see the goods.  In this case frozen blueberries and purees and concentrates.  They want to see, taste and test.  This is critical, and this is the reason, I re-routed my travel to Taiwan to get samples into Vietnam.
>All leads to acceptance.  This is where companies are sold on the concept of bringing frozen blueberries and ingredient solutions into the country.   These companies will work off the USHBC suppliers list and connect.

That is what it is all about!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Food Taipei -- 2018

USHBC exhibits at the Food Taipei June 27-30!  How can I forget my first Food Taipei exposition in 1990s!  We Flew 15 hours on a plane with a smoking section.  (yuck) Took a taxi to the expo center and smacked a crazy motorbike driver.  Arrived just in time for a 6.5 earthquake which re-arranged everything.   (Ask Mark Villata)

It was interesting to see locals -- especially young ladies lined up to taste their first blueberries.  They tasted and pointed to skin with a big smile.

Here we are in 2018!   Taiwanese love fresh blueberries --especially from the USA which is a "brand" they trust.   The biggest change has been the developments in the Taiwanese food industry.  While there have bee ups and downs in fresh, the processed side continues to grow.   Each year, we attend Food Taipei and connect with new food processing companies such as dairy, baking and candy as well as Taiwanese favorites as traditional moon cakes.   Taiwan has a wide based small food industry, has pioneered LOHAS  (Lifestyle Oriented Health and Sustainability) and are also big into organics and just about every food trend that comes from Japan, Korea or the USA. Now Taiwan is a trendsetter for all of "Greater China" including the People's Republic, and all of the countries of Southeast Asia where "overseas" Chinese run many food industries.

Island of Innovation:  The small Taiwanese companies were the first to start innovating with blueberries.   Now the "big guys" like Unipresident (largest food manufacturer in all of Asia), I-Mei and others are stepping into blueberries.  Besides meeting at the conferences, we stay connected with R & D, hold meetings, seminars and stay in touch.   (Taiwan companies are some of the leaders in Mainland Chinese good business)  Some of the most important developments in China are a result of our Taiwan connection.

UNI President - A leader in Asian Food Business

Food Taipei 2018.  The big show runs from June 27-30 at the Taipei Nangang Expo Center.  The excitement is building and USHBC will hold court in the USA Pavilion sponsored by our super-helpful friends at the American Institute in Taiwan(AIT) Agricultural Trade Office. This year we are introducing blueberry ingredient solutions and also focus on frozen and our USA food safety legacy.  We are even constructing a cardboard cutout of Doc Blueberry with QR code to make things interesting.  Wei Yang of Oregon State University is a "rock star" in Taiwan.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Israel-Produced Blueberry Topping -- 70 % Blueberry!

Here is the "Real Deal" from a really innovative company in Israel!  Tnuva is the leading food processors in this state of around 8.3 million.  They are also the world's leading Kosher food manufacturer.   Each year we visit with Tnuva R & D at the Institute of Food Technologist (IFT).   They really are a global company and have a large presence in the USA as well.

Back to the "Real Deal.  Here is a blueberry topping proudly introduced by Tnuva at the recent International Dairy, Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) exposition in New Orleans.  When we think of toppings -- we sometimes think sugar -- but this one is 70% blueberry.  This is now being introduced in the company's Anvey Zion brand.  A wonderful blueberry flavor, aroma and texture!  This is perfect for consumer and foodservice operations who want to show real blueberries!

מזל טוב (congratulations)  to Tnuva!  

USHBC has targeted Israel for market development work in the food industry sector in 2019.   We look forward to meet up with our friends at Tnuva at the upcoming Institute of Food Technologists meeting in Chicago July 15-17.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Taiwan Retailers Proudly Present USA Blueberries

New Advertisement for Wellcome Supermarkets in Taiwan reinforcing the message  that USA Blueberries are available.   The new Wellcome-designed flag logo symbolized food safety!  The Wellcome Facebook is buzzing with positive comments.   

I love it when a plan comes together...  We are into the final week  of retail promotions in a selection of Wellcome and Jason's Marketplace stores throughout the island.  The emphasis: USA Blueberries are available!  The promotion included QR Code links to Doc Blueberry (Wei Yang of Oregon State University) who told of the many precautions and food safety practices used by USA shippers to serve the Taiwan Market.  The message resonated and we have received hundreds of visitors each day to view.  Wei is a "Rock Star!"  

Poster in the blueberry section of the stores continues to link customers with Doc Blueberry!  Signage also includes the USHBC Export logo and American Flag.  This was all designed to perpetuate the small promotion and this extended activity will be in place at 272 stores throughout Taiwan.  (photos later!)  Brief translation -- Want to know more about USA blueberries?  Ask Doc Blueberry!

What next?  Wellcome was reluctant to promote blueberries at the start of the 2018 season.  They are now bullish!  USHBC sampling programs are almost complete, but the store chain is perpetuating the Doc Blueberry campaign in 272 stores island-wide for the remainder of the season.  Wellcome is promoting USA blueberries proudly in their advertising and social media campaigns and have been asking "how long they can expect supplies from the USA?"  That is a good sign!  Other retailers have noticed and Carrefour also wants to connect their customers to Doc Blueberry and USA food safety!

Congratulations to Blueberry FoodTech Mandy--our "boots on the ground" in Taiwan who has worked tirelessly on this innovative campaign.   

I love when a plan comes together!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Arandanos Azules -- Colombia

In Latin America, things aren't always the way they look.  Check out this new product from Bimbo Bakeries in Colombia.  Bimbo is a big supporter of blueberries everywhere they operate.  That would be South America, Central America, China and the USA and beyond  Yes, this Mexico-based company is the largest baking company in the world!

Take a look at this whole-grain bread with blueberries on the label.  Arádano
 is a word which describes a cranberry.  It's complicated.   In some countries in Latin America, the word arádano is also used to describe a blueberry.   When we started work in Mexico, you would find the word arádano used to describe blueberry.  Eventually some began using the term "Mora Azul", which is even stranger as the word mora is a raspberry.  In this case the word for blueberry was literally a "blue raspberry!"  

Are you confused yet?  Luckily we did not listen to the experts and insisted that a blueberry is a blueberry.   After all imported blueberry products like Smucker's jam have been marketing blueberry jam in the region for decades.    Now the word blueberry is the word for blueberry in most --but not all cases.

Back to the new Bimbo bread.  Our local FoodTech Katia was happy to see the big beautiful blueberry on the package of Vital bread.  She contacted Bimbo Colombia and learned that this product was indeed arádano -- arádano rojos (red) and not arádano azules (blue)!

Bimbo is an excellent company and really a great friend of our industry.   They immediately worked with Katia and a local supplier to get some real blueberries into the Research and Development lab -- pronto.  It is not easy to make a quick change in big-time food processing, but he process of evaluation in under way.

This will become a target for our Real BlueberriesSeal!

Muchas Gracias!

Monday, June 18, 2018

IDDBA-2018 New Orleans

International Dairy Deli & Bakery Association.  That's quite a mouthful.   You got the Natural Products Expo for health foods.  You got the Institute of Food Technologists for big food business.  You got the Fancy Foods Show for gourmet foods.

Here is the Expositon for the up and coming food companies.  These are the innovators who have come up with an idea, have had success and are ready to national and international.

USHBC attends this annual exposition to meet the companies who exhibit.  There are rows of bagels.  An entire hall of cheese.  Trendy items like Middle Eastern dips.  Chips, salsas and my very favorite -- perfect pizzas!   Manufacturers are looking for ingredients that are genuine for the discriminating millennial customer of the future.  They found it at the USHBC booth!

Here are a few interesting images from the IDDBA with a blueberry perspective:

Real Blueberry muffins from Sugar Bowl in San Francisco.   Now use highbush blueberries.

Dried Blueberry Toppings for salads.  We talked blueberries with this company last year!  

Optimal blueberry muffins.  The owner of this bakery was so proud of this beauty!

Hispanic bakery goods.  These are empanadas.   Our next door neighbor.

"Home Style" pastries for the bakery case.  With fewer and fewer trained bakers--wholesalers are filling the void with fresh bake items to stock the case.

Asian foods even sushi with blueberries!

From Tnuva, a leading food processor in Israel -- a filling with 70% blueberries!  We will meet them in Tel Aviv next year.  

Local is important and we sampled delicious fresh blueberries from "up the road" in Mississippi.  Over and over again, attendees came back for fresh blueberries and complimented us on having "something natural!"

Ya'll come back this October!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Overseas Visitors Matter

CEO (right)  and Company Director who is also an expert in ethnobotany and Vietnamese medicinal herbs takes the helm of a blueberry harvester.
Just back from: Shanghai, Vietnam, Oregon and New Orleans.   June is a busy month!  The most enjoyable thing about travel is meeting incredibly interesting people!  While at the Food Ingredient Vietnam Exposition, I hit it off with the CEO of Vietnam's largest dairy.  (Largest private company for that matter).  Of course, "stop in and visit when you get to the USA," I said.  Beam ahead to June 15 and it is "we are here..."  A quick trip to the airport and the closest nearby blueberry grower.  The busy visiting executives carved out three hours for me from their busy schedules!  The grower had been up since 2:00 am with the harvest but graciously accommodated.

My new friend, the Director of Marketing, one of the smartest individuals I have ever met!

Mission Accomplished: Besides talking blueberry -- I met some if the most interesting individuals who are in turn interested in blueberries.   Learned about their country, businesses.  We have new friends in this important market of the future!  Look forward to visit them on their turf later this year.

In this era of Social Networks -- one thing is certain -- Hospitality Matters.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Independence Day HCM City Vietnam

Our FoodTech Hana likes fast bikes (essential to get around HCM City)  She met her match with this brand new Harley at the Independence Day Celebration hosted by the Consulate General of the USA in HCM City!
Happy Independence Day from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  One of the great things about cooperating with the USDA in Vietnam is you get invited to a lot of parties!   The theme: We love America!  Hana is on the circuit and has made some of her best contacts at these US Consulate General events!

Of course a lot of speeches.   It is incredible to see the mutual admiration between Vietnam and the USA!

Everyone gets a "Cowboy" hat.

Postcards From HCM
Hana and importer/distributor of blueberries.  Like the "Blues Brothers shades!

Time for friends in the trade to meet, greet and get silly!

Good night from Vietnam!  

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Mississippi meets Myanmar!

Myanmar team visits JD Farms in Poplarville, Mississippi!  (Don is in the red shirt in the very back!)

I love it when a plan comes together.   Actually we did not plan this one but it sure came together thanks to a lot of old friends.

>USHBC exhibited at the International Dairy, Deli, Bakery Association (IDDBA) annual meeting and exposition in New Orleans.   A great gathering of the food industry and you will read more about this in a future blog post.

The joy of picking berries!  
>A change in plans.  We met with our friend Enrique Rubio who covers the Midwest for this great organization that is always looking out for the interest of the blueberry industry.   Enrique informed me that there was a USDA Cochrane mission in town, from of all places Myanmar!  Bingo!  Hana out Vietnam FoodTech was just in Myanmar attending the Food and Hotel Myanmar.   The Cochrane program is a special activity where food professionals from developing countries like Myanmar can visit the USA for training.   USHBC is always on the hunt to intercept these groups which include the current and future food industry leaders.

>Enrique called the coordinator and next day a great group of Burmese visitors were gathered at the USHBC booth.   This included two representatives of CityMart holdings which is the leading retailer in Myanmar.  Others included major importers, food distributors and bakers and suppliers.  These are exactly the contacts that will make things happen in this up and coming Southeast Asian nation formerly called Burma.
Group gathers at USHBC booth.  That is Enrique on the left!
>The group tasted the local Mississippi-grown blueberries which we were sampling at the booth and opportunity knocked  -- we needed to get these folks up to Poplarville, Mississippithe blueberry capital of the South.  (about 1.5  hour north of New Orleans) We were on the way!

Group picks berries at Sandy Run Farm with Mr. Congeniality Ethan Goggins as host!

>Called Don  Van De Werken of J& D Farms of course.   I know that a van load of Burmese visitors was the last thing he needed during harvest -- but he graciously said, "I'd love to meet the group."  Don is a pioneer in exporting fresh and frozen blueberries to India.  

>Don, a true Southern Gentleman and Internationalist dropped everything and hosted the group to his farm.  Everyone loves to pick and learned all about the soon-to-be Burmese favorite!

>Next the group journeyed down the road to hook up with my good friend Ethan Goggans of Sandy Run Farm.  He escorted the group down the road to Miss-Lou Coop where they saw blueberries packed.  Luis Monterde runs, who we all know from USUBC runs Mis-Lou Cooperative which runs like a Swiss Watch.  The group was amazed!

Luis Monterde is on the far right explaining the art of blueberry packing to future buyers from Myanmar.

>Then out to Sandy Run Farm with Ethan for one final pick!  

Nobody wanted to go home!  Some said Mississippi was a lot like Myanmar, especially the true Southern Hospitality.

Only regret -- the group had to get back to New Orelans, for an appointment.  All wanted to stay or move in with Ethan and his wonderful dogs which were a hit!  We had a catfish fry planed, but we will need to do this next time.  The group did invite us all for some traditional Burmese curry catfish when we visit Yangon!

What could top off this perfect day?

USDA-APHIS announced that fresh blueberries are now allowed into Myanmar!   More on that later.

Good night from Mississippi-Myanmar!